6 Ways Toxicity & Environment Can Damage Your Hair

You might not think a walk around your neighborhood, your hair gel, your supermarket choices, or your deodorant have anything to do with your hair growth. But your hair follicles are sensitive little things, and unfortunately they take all of these choices pretty personally. 

Your daily environment has the potential to stress out your follicles, impairing their ability to build the hair of your dreams and potentially throwing them out of the growth phase entirely. Curious which environmental factors can cause damage to your hair and impact growth? Read on to find out.

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Environmental factors that can damage your hair

There are many pieces of your environment that might be sprinkling hidden obstacles in the path to your ideal hair growth. The main ones are:

  • Your hair products

That extra strong hold from your conventional hair products might not be worth the internal price you’re paying. Ingredients frequently found in hairspray and other hair care products, such as phthalates and dioxane, are common culprits of endocrine disruption, which is a technical way of categorizing anything that messes with your hormones’ normal functioning. Because your hormones are the behind-the-scenes orchestrators of your hair growth, the ingredients in your hair products are something to pay attention to. On the far end of the scary ingredients list, some add-ins to hair relaxers and shampoos like formaldehyde are so damaging to our DNA that they’ve even been linked to cancer.

  • Your makeup and personal care products

Toxins can hide in your makeup and other everyday products by the boatload. Lipsticks are significant hideouts for toxic ingredients like arsenic and lead. Oxybenzone, an ingredient commonly found in sunscreen, has been linked to disrupting our all-important hormones in a big way. Some ingredients found in lipsticks and moisturizers have also been found to mess with hormones like your thyroid hormones, which are of particular importance in keeping your hair follicles functioning at their best. Parabens, used as a preservative in skin care products and beyond, have been shown to stress your thyroid hormones, increase oxidative stress, and damage your DNA.

  • Your air quality

You may not think about it much, but your air quality counts when it comes to your hair health. Your hair combats and canoodles with every particle in your day-to-day air supply, and the aerosols and particulates it contains may be taking a toll on your strands. Unfortunately, the more urban and industrial your environment, the worse the air quality and the greater an impact this can have on your health. Combustion hanging out in the air has been linked to respiratory issues and metabolic issues like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cognitive functioning, and neurodegenerative disease. These connections mean that pollution in your air has the potential to mess with your metabolic processes and normal DNA functioning. Couple that with air pollution’s ability to stimulate inflammatory responses and interfere with your microbiome, and it’s no stretch to see how this could throw a wrench in your sensitive hair growth cycle.

  • Your antiperspirant

If you use an antiperspirant, you know it can do a phenomenal job of stopping sweat in its tracks. That’s thanks to aluminum, which helps fill your pores and keeps them shut. The big issue with this is that your skin — especially the area of your armpits — is an effective absorber, which means that daily dose of antiperspirant you’re applying is potentially absorbing into your body. This is an important connection to make, as aluminum has been linked to serious impairments to the nervous system and to neurodegenerative diseases. Aluminum’s presence is likely throwing off your normal processes long before you realize it’s a problem, distracting your liver and other systems from the roles they play in your hair’s growth (like activating thyroid hormone). And when it comes to your hair cycle, no distraction is a good distraction.

  • Your lunch

Larger fish tend to accumulate mercury, a toxic metal that has been connected to a number of unpleasant health effects like disruption to your digestion, immune, and nervous systems. These imbalances throw off your hormone signaling, lead to inflammation, and stress out the inner workings of your body (including your hair). Another unfortunate secondary impact is that this inflammation can mess with your ability to digest the nutrients necessary for hair growth.

  • Your plastic water bottles

Your everyday plastics may be exposing you to persistent organic pollutants (POPs). While the full list of POPs is long and growing by the day, these harmful compounds include bisphenols, phthalates, and dioxins. These POPs, which have the potential to leach into your food and water (especially when heated), can cause oxidative stress in your body and fire up inflammation — two things known to hit the “off” switch on your hair growth cycle.

Protecting your hair from environmental stressors 

While it may feel like your everyday life is conspiring against you and your hair growth, there are definitely things you can do to protect yourself from these stressors and decrease their impact. It’s helpful to avoid hair products containing parabens and other problematic ingredients, and try to choose organic ingredients whenever possible. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a great resource for vetting your old hair products and cosmetics and researching new ones. Swapping out your antiperspirant for an aluminum-free deodorant is also a useful step, as well as switching your plastic water bottles and food containers for glass versions. Your favorite high mercury fish choices can also be switched out for safer options

To give your hair follicles additional help with combatting daily stress from your environment, consider also taking a supplement like Nutrafol. A natural supplement that boosts hair health, Nutrafol contains antioxidants like vitamin C and E that have been found to help keep damaging oxidative stress at bay. Ingredients like curcumin from turmeric have also been shown to help combat oxidative stress (along with helping to support lower inflammation in the body), giving your hair that extra protection it needs. 

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 24, 2020

NEXT: Want a boost for your hair?

12 People Who Transformed Their Hair With Nutrafol

Here at Nutrafol, we like to say, “We’re here for your hair” — and that doesn’t just mean delivering you our products. 

We know how hair thinning can chip away at everything from your confidence to your social life. The effects can be life-altering. And you need support to help you get to the other side, which is why we offer one-on-one consultations with our in-house naturopathic doctors. They’re here to help you understand your root causes and stay on track to reach your hair goals.

"It is so fulfilling when a customer emails or calls you and can't wait to show you their progress," says Dr. Melissa Anzelone, ND, who has helped countless subscribers transform their hair with Nutrafol.

As a team, we celebrate every time a subscriber sends us their success story. Whether you call our customer service team, tag us on Instagram, or email us, your “before and growing” results are why we do what we do. 

Jonathon, age 38 

Results after 13 months on Nutrafol

This is Jonathon before and during his 13-month Nutrafol journey. “Nutrafol was conscious of the fact that younger men deal with these issues, too, and wasn’t afraid to speak to them,” he says. “I definitely felt my hair get thicker and stronger overall.”

Teresa, age 48 

Results after three years on Nutrafol

Teresa says her hair started thinning at 24 years old. After years of hair coloring, overstyling, and experiencing high stress, she started to see her scalp through her hair. With Nutrafol, she reports her hair became thicker and shinier. This is her incredible progress after three years.

Amaan, age 42 

“After the first six months, I started to notice my hair getting thicker,” Amaan tells us. A few months later, he says his friends and family started to notice, too. “The results have far exceeded my expectations,” he says. “A few weeks after incorporating Nutrafol, I started to feel much better. Nutrafol addresses the root causes of your hair issues while also helping to balance your sleep and stress.”

>> Read more on Amaan’s hair journey here

Lera, age 35 

Results after eight months on Nutrafol

Growing up in the Ukraine, where there are limited regulations on environmental pollutants, Lera says her hair has always been brittle and thin. She first started noticing hair issues when she was a teenager and struggled for years to find a solution. With Nutrafol, she found exactly what she needed to improve her hair health. “Nutrafol made my hair very shiny and gave it its life back,” Lera says

Wendy, age 60+ 

Results after six months on Nutrafol

After six months of taking Nutrafol Women’s Balance, Wendy saw better scalp coverage on the top of her head. “The center had very bad thinning,” she says. “I could only style my hair in certain ways. After using Nutrafol, my hair is so much fuller and vibrant. I feel more confident.”

Name changed for privacy 

Justeenia, age 48 

Results after three months on Nutrafol

After an extremely stressful event, Justeenia noticed thinning at the back of her head. But after just three months on Nutrafol Women’s Balance, her hair was thicker and fuller, and her texture had improved. She credits this to the adaptogen ingredients like maca and ashwagandha found in the Women’s Balance formula. 

Jon, age 22

Results after three months on Nutrafol

Stress from working night shifts while completing his bachelor’s degree had started taking a toll on Jon’s hair. After discovering more and more hair in the shower and on his pillow, Jon started taking Nutrafol. After three months, he noticed more scalp coverage. “Saw palmetto, an ingredient in Nutrafol, helps target DHT, the hormone responsible for Jon’s hair thinning,” Dr. Tess Marshall, ND, a naturopathic doctors at Nutrafol, explains. 

Marina, 50+ 

Results after six months on Nutrafol

Marina noticed her hair was thinning due to frequent dyeing and overstyling. After six months on Nutrafol Women’s Balance, she saw an increase in thickness, volume, and shine. “I started styling my hair differently to cover up what was happening,” she says. “It was embarrassing. After using Nutrafol for six months, I see more growth and my part is getting smaller again. Now I feel more confident.”

Name has been changed for privacy

Kyron, age 43

Results after four months on Nutrafol
In his early 40s, Kyron noticed the quality of his hair was suffering due to physical stress and a diet lacking optimal nutrition. A friend introduced him to Nutrafol, and after four months he saw better scalp coverage. “I fell in love with Nutrafol for its natural properties,” he says. “My confidence level is back.”
 

Liza, age 28 

Results after 11 months on Nutrafol

At 28, Liza realized her hair was losing its fullness, so she began taking Nutrafol. “I noticed an increase in hair growth after 11 months on Nutrafol,” she says. “It improved my hair texture considerably!”

Natallia, 48 

Results after three months on Nutrafol

“As a new mom and a dermatologist, I noticed my hair wasn’t as full as it was in the past,” Dr. Natallia says. “After taking Nutrafol, my hair became more dense, especially around the temple areas, and much shinier! I am impressed by the quality of ingredients in Nutrafol.”

Brenda, 43

Results after six months on Nutrafol

After six months of taking Nutrafol Women’s Balance, Brenda had major growth around her temples and noticed an increase in overall thickness. “My hair was thinning more and more with time,” she says. “After taking Nutrafol, I noticed my hair was more full and I feel so much better about myself.”

Name changed for privacy

 

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 19, 2020

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. TESS MARSHALL, ND

on March 19, 2020

Nutrafol is made with ingredients clinically shown to improve hair growth.

WATCH: Why I Chose Nutrafol For My Hair

Everything You Need To Know About DHT & Hair Thinning

“DHT” are three letters often seen on products marketed at improving hair growth and decreasing hair loss, but what do these letters stand for? Is DHT actually important?

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DHT is an androgen that helps give male characteristics like muscles and body hair. DHT is not a “bad” hormone; however, problems may arise when the DHT androgens attach to the hair follicles on your head. Below, we’ll explain how DHT can trigger follicle miniaturization, which ultimately leads to thinning and permanent loss.

What is DHT?

DHT is an abbreviation for dihydrotestosterone, a hormone created in certain parts of the body as a result of testosterone metabolism. Like testosterone, DHT is considered an “androgen,” meaning it contributes to the development and presence of male sex characteristics (except DHT is much more potent than testosterone itself).

DHT is super important during two life phases. First, in embryonic and fetal development, the secretion of DHT contributes to the differentiation of the sex of the fetus as male. Second, during puberty, DHT contributes to the maturation of male sex characteristics. After puberty, DHT does not contribute much to the functioning of the body, yet it is still made in various tissues.

What does DHT do to your hair?

Tissues including the prostate, liver, brain, skin, and hair follicles have high amounts of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (5-AR), which makes DHT from testosterone. But let’s focus on the hair follicles: Once made, DHT is able to interact with androgen receptors in the follicles. This interaction produces a different result depending on where the follicle is located. In axillary (armpit) and pubic regions, DHT causes an increase in hair growth and thickening of the hair. On the scalp, however, DHT causes a shrinking of the hair follicle and changes the hair growth cycle to a shorter growth (anagen) phase.

While everyone produces DHT, some individuals have receptors that are more sensitive to the presence of DHT. Even the presence of DHT in normal ranges can cause hair follicles to shrink and shut down in these people. Though DHT is not the only causal factor behind hair loss and hair thinning, it does play a hugely important role.

Natural ingredients to balance DHT

The DHT problem can be approached in two ways. The first is by decreasing the activity of 5-AR, thus reducing the production of DHT from testosterone. Next is by blocking the androgen receptors and preventing DHT from binding to them.

Nutrafol uses a proprietary Synergen Complex® formulated with patented stress adaptogens, super antioxidants, and, of course, botanical extracts that target DHT. The two herbs added to Nutrafol Core products (Nutrafol for Men, Nutrafol for Women, and Nutrafol Women’s Balance) to help solve the DHT hair problem are saw palmetto and curcumin:  

  • Saw Palmetto (serenoa repens): This herb has been studied widely for the treatment of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), a disorder linked to increased DHT activity. The different compounds of this botanical have been shown to bind to and block the actions of 5-AR enzyme, preventing DHT from being formed. As a side benefit, saw palmetto may even have some positive effects on individuals struggling with erectile dysfunction, as animal studies have shown that certain compounds of the herb can increase nitrous oxide synthase important for the widening of blood vessels.
  • Curcumin (curcuma longa): This is an extract from the culinary herb turmeric, a golden spice you might be most familiar with in curry. Alongside its culinary use, turmeric has been a long-standing part of Ayurvedic medicine. The actions of curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, are vast. In current practices, curcumin is best known for its ability to reduce inflammation and has been shown to decrease the formation of androgen receptors in the hair follicle. (Fewer receptors = fewer places for DHT to interact with.) It also has been shown to block DHT production by having an effect on that pesky 5-AR enzyme.

These DHT-balancing natural ingredients can be taken internally to circulate through the bloodstream and arrive at the hair follicle, depositing there to interfere with the function of DHT. Applying these natural ingredients topically might not do much, as the first layer of skin acts as a protective barrier; however, supplements like Nutrafol make it easy to get the ingredients you need to balance out your DHT levels and protect the health of your hair.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 18, 2020

NEXT: Want a boost for your hair?

The Best Natural Oils To Moisturize Dry Hair

While this winter has been mild by most standards, the colder temperatures have continued to dry out our skin, our nails, and ultimately, our hair. There are tons of hair products out there that claim to help nourish your hair, but many people have the desire for more natural alternatives — ones that are free of harmful ingredients like mineral oils and sulfates.

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Below, we’ve listed six all-natural oils that can deliver relief to dehydrated hair. These oils aid in eliminating dandruff, hydrate the cuticles, and can restore luster and moisture to your hair.

Coconut oil

Arguably the most recognized oil for hair health, coconut oil reduces protein loss in damaged hair. Filled with moisturizing vitamin E, this oil serves as a great pre- and post-wash grooming product.

Jojoba oil

An oil extracted from the seeds of an American shrub, jojoba oil can make a great leave-in treatment or a hydrating mask. This oil helps to promote a healthy inflammatory response in the skin (where the hair lives), leading many experts to believe jojoba oil can help support a healthy hair growth cycle. For in-shower use, mix jojoba oil with conditioner to reap all of the hydrating benefits without weighing your strands down.

Olive oil

Olive oil is a staple of at-home beauty. When applied topically, olive oil can help induce anagen, the growth phase of hair. In its natural state, olive oil is not the best for use as a styler; however, the ingredient is wonderful for pre-wash and wash day use. Mix olive oil with other good-for-you must-haves, like avocado and honey, to create a mask. Rinse with a hydrating shampoo and conditioner, and your scalp and strands will be renewed.

Lemongrass oil

If dandruff is your biggest concern, you may want to add lemongrass oil to your daily hair routine. This oil relieves irritation, dandruff, and dryness with its antifungal and antiviral properties. Not sure how to incorporate lemongrass oil into your regimen? Simply dilute the oil with water in a spray bottle, and spritz the scalp and strands, allowing to sit for 30 minutes. Then rinse as normal.

Tea tree oil

Like lemongrass oil, tea tree oil has antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can help with dandruff. Tea tree oil is extracted from fresh leaves and wood of the tea tree shrub. The shrub’s oil contains a number of active compounds that can destroy microbes and fungi, making it an effective treatment for a dry, flaky scalp.

Almond oil

With high amounts of vitamin E, almond oil is known for making hair healthier all-around. If breakage is a problem, almond oil can help make hair less prone to split ends. If dry scalp is a problem, this oil serves as an effective spot treatment. (Not to mention, it smells amazing!)

Stick to natural ingredients

With so many products out there, keeping your hair care ingredients as natural and simple as possible is the best way to ensure you know exactly what’s going on your scalp. Try to only use natural hair oils like the ones listed above. If you really want to make sure your hair is getting the moisture and support it needs, also consider incorporating an all-natural, plant-derived supplement, like Nutrafol, into your hair care routine.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 17, 2020

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A Letter To Our Community

Hi friends,


During these times when stress and anxiety are running high, I want to reach out and let you know that we are more committed to our mission – and to you – than ever before. We know the past few weeks have brought uncertainty, and we are all facing unprecedented times ahead. While these are challenging days, we are optimistic and believe we will come out of this stronger than ever, together. 

Above all else, we prioritize the health and safety of our customers and employees. That’s why, out of an abundance of caution, our team began practicing social distancing last week and are working remotely. We have taken all necessary steps to make sure you can still get your products whenever you need through our website. Due to high demand, you may receive our original bottle design in your next shipment, however, the product inside is the same great Nutrafol formula you’ve come to rely upon. 

Like you, we are still figuring this out. But we are here to help however we can. We are grateful to have such an engaged community. So please don’t hesitate to reach out through email or IG comments. Tell us what you need: What types of content would you like to see from us? We are here for you. 

As you begin spending more time at home, take time for self-care wellness rituals. Our naturopathic doctors recommend doing everything you can to support your immune system to keep yourself healthy, and of course, wash your hands! 

Use this time to reconnect with your family and loved ones. Check on at-risk neighbors and those who are vulnerable during this time. We are in this together.

Giorgos Tsetis
Co-Founder & CEO
Nutrafol 

This Is The Right Way To Wash Your Hair

Let’s face it: Wash day for our hair is usually not something we’re necessarily jumping for joy about. In fact, for many, it’s downright dreaded. But it’s super necessary and a must to achieve and maintain healthy hair. But what if we told you that you may be washing your hair wrong? That you’re not giving it the right love it needs and leaving it neglected once you step out of the shower?

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Unfortunately, you might be, but fear not: Ahead we have expert advice on how to simplify your wash day. Learn how to wash your hair the right way for your desired end goal and kickstart some serious hair growth.

Step 1: Shampoo

Depending on what hairstyle or texture you’re looking for, how often you shampoo your hair may vary. People with oily hair types may require shampooing on a daily basis, while people with dry hair or dry scalp might only want to shampoo their hair a few times a month. “No-pooing,” or washing hair without commercial shampoo, has also risen in popularity; however, following the “no-poo” method may lead to build-up or breakage. You’ll want to shampoo your hair at least once a month, at a minimum. “Every scalp needs a solid reset from time to time,” New York City hairstylist Aja Marian-Smith says. Opt for a sulfate-free shampoo or alternate between using shampoo and co-washing to maintain your hair’s moisture, giving your scalp the fresh start it needs (whether that’s once a day, once a week, or once a month). After shampooing, rinse for at least 15 seconds to ensure the shampoo has made it through your hair and any lingering product has been properly washed out.

Step 2: Condition

Above all other steps, conditioning is a must. It’s important to replenish your hair with the moisture it loses, especially during the shampooing phase. The vast majority of hair types and textures call for a hydrating conditioner, which should be left on the hair for 15-20 minutes before rinsing for optimal results. “If you’re really trying to penetrate the hair shaft and scalp, I suggest applying a plastic cap and sitting under a hooded dryer,” Smith adds. “The heat really activates those moisturizing agents, opens the hair cuticle, and fosters a safe space for more moisture to enter the hair.”

And when it comes time to rinse out your conditioner, water temperature is dependent upon desired style. If you’re looking to wear your hair in its natural state, rinsing with cold water is a better idea, as it closes the cuticle and retains a bit more moisture. If you want more volume, rinsing your hair with warmer water might be your best bet.

Step 3: Add Leave-In Products

No matter your texture or hairstyle, some form of leave-in after washing is imperative. If you’re wearing your hair natural, apply a more emollient leave-in with a thicker texture to the hair. If you’re planning on heat manipulation and need more lightweight movement to the hair, apply a small bit of hair serum, distributing throughout the scalp and strands. And while people’s hair texture may vary, when they should apply their leave-in is consistent: Leave-in products should be applied when the hair is still wet, as the cuticle is open and able to receive nourishing ingredients.

So whether you wash your hair every day, every month, or sometime in between, the common factor is a need for proper nourishment and moisture. So find the best shampoo and conditioning products for your hair, wash your hair following these guidelines, and always remember to take your Nutrafol to help continue nourishing your hair, even when it’s not wash day.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 12, 2020

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16 Ingredients To Avoid In Hair Products

You use hair care and styling products every day — but do you even know what’s actually in them? Take a look inside your bathroom cabinets and drawers. Chances are, you have a collection of hair products that are synthetically derived and filled with substances that can potentially harm your hair. That’s because the United States isn’t the most aggressive country when it comes to banning harmful chemicals in hair products: Europe and Canada have banned hundreds of ingredients that are unfortunately still permitted in the US market. This makes it especially important for American consumers to be aware of what ingredients are in their products.

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Not sure what to look out for? The experts at Nutrafol came up with a list of ingredients you should avoid putting in your hair. If you see any of these listed as an ingredient on a hair product, think twice before purchasing:

1. Mineral oil

With its smoothing properties, mineral oil performs well as a detangler or hair conditioner. But mineral oil contains significant levels of PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons), potentially linking it to nonmelanoma skin cancer. Because cancer usually means some sort of dysregulated immune signaling — and immune signaling is crucial in a healthy cycling follicle — even a small amount of this ingredient could be harmful to hair cells.

2. Petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly comes from the same source as mineral oil and poses similar risks. This ingredient may be associated with an increased risk of cancer due to PAHs.

3. PVP/ VA copolymer

PVP/VA copolymer is the ingredient found in most hair care products that provides the “hold factor.” (Think: hairsprays.) It is another toxic chemical derived from petroleum that’s known to cause irritation to the scalp, as well as respiratory issues in some people.

4. Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate

Known as “sulfates,” these ingredients are used as cleansing or foaming agents in hair products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t officially deemed sulfates “harmful,” but they can be drying to the scalp and strip hair from its natural moisture. Certain concentrations have been found to cause moderate irritation, especially in those with sensitive skin or skin conditions.

5. Polyethylene glycol

Polyethylene glycol (PEGs) are included in many hair care products as a thickening agent; however they tend to strip the hair of its natural moisture. Users then need to add silicone to make the hair feel soft again. According to a report by the International Journal of Toxicology by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, carcinogenic (cancer-causing) ingredients were found in various PEG compounds, some of which have also been classified as a “developmental toxicant” (meaning they may interfere with human development).

6. Benzene

Benzene is another immune-signaling disrupter commonly found in hair dyes. According to the American Cancer Society, benzene is known to cause cancers, including leukemia. Studies have shown there’s a strong link between benzene, immune system toxicity, leukemia, and other cancers of the blood cells. Research also supports that an expectant mother’s exposure to benzene may cause developmental damage to the fetus. Despite these risks, benzene is still one of the 20 most common chemicals in the US, which is why it’s so important to read the list of ingredients on every hair product bottle.

7. Phthalates

Though this group of chemicals is often sneakily disguised as “fragrance,” phthalates are used in a number of hair products. They help reduce stiffness in products like hairsprays, allowing them to form a flexible film. But studies have found that phthalates interfere with our endocrine hormones, which is bad news for our hair. The hair growth cycle is sensitive to changes in our endocrine hormones like estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, testosterone, insulin, and thyroid hormones.

8. Parabens

Similar to phthalates, parabens are also endocrine disruptors. Used to prolong the shelf-life of hair products, they can appear on ingredients lists as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, etc. Parabens are easily absorbed by the human body when applied to the skin or scalp, which puts your endocrine system — and the health of your hair — at immediate risk.

Always read the ingredients labels on your hair products.

9. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and, like parabens, it’s been proven to be absorbed through the skin in animal testing. Manufacturers often add it to hair products, such as shampoo, or Brazilian/keratin blowout treatments to work as a preservative.

10. Synthetic colors and dyes

Many hair dyes and other hair products use an abundance of synthetic colors and dyes. These toxins and chemicals can harm the hair cuticle, leaving it susceptible to oxidative damage. Many artificial colors and dyes are also made of coal tar, which may contain heavy metal salts like arsenic and lead that can deposit toxicity onto the scalp.

11. Sodium hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is used in hair products — especially ones that serve as straightening treatments — to adjust pH, or the acidity. But NaOH can actually damage your hair when used at high concentrations and at high pH.

12. Alcohol

Alcohol is added to hair products to help hair retain moisture; however, many alcohols have a drying effect that can damage delicate strands — and the higher up that “alcohol” appears in the ingredient list, the more of it the product contains. Tip: The alcohols that wreak havoc on dry hair usually have a “prop” in their name, like Isopropyl alcohol or propanol.

13. Cocamidopropyl betaine

Cocamidopropyl betaine is a popular cleansing agent and foam booster. Although it’s derived from coconut oil, it can cause skin irritation. Anyone with rosacea, eczema, or skin allergies should steer clear of hair products containing cocamidopropyl betaine.

14. Diethanolamine

Diethanolamine (DEA) is also a foam agent that reduces surface tension so water-soluble and oil-soluble ingredients can blend together. About 20 years ago, researchers found a link between the topical application of DEA and cancer in animals (however, the effects on humans are unclear). Although DEA can still be used in American hair care products, European Commission actually banned DEA in cosmetics.

15. Triclosan

Triclosan is added to many haircare products to prevent bacterial contamination, but it’s a skin irritant and suspected carcinogen. Even in the United States, the antibacterial agent triclosan is banned from being used in antibacterial soaps; however, it is still allowed in shampoos. This ingredient is known to cause hormone disruptions, which can lead to cancer and affect fetal development.

16. Dimethicone

Dimethicone is a type of silicone that is used in an array of hair products. Since dimethicone acts as a protecting cover on the surface of the hair, it contributes to product buildup and can actually prevent moisture and nutrients from coming in. Instead, it collects dirt and residue, clogs the pores on the scalp and causes skin irritation.

Natural is key

With so many products and ingredients out there on the market, keeping it as simple as possible is your best bet to ensure you know exactly what’s going on your scalp. Try to only use hair products that are made with natural, non-toxic ingredients, such as shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera, tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, or argan oil. And to really make sure your hair is getting the nourishment it needs to fight off any chemicals or toxins it encounters, consider implementing an all-natural, plant-derived supplement, like Nutrafol, into your hair care routine. Made with vitamins like biotin along with ashwagandha, tocotrienols, curcumin, and saw palmetto, Nutrafol supports healthy hair growth — 100% drug-free.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 11, 2020

NEXT: Want a boost for your hair?

3 Ways Gut Health Impacts Hair Wellness

You may think you know who your BFF is, but if you named anything other than your microbiome, you’d be wrong. No living thing does more for you than your gastrointestinal flora. (Sorry, mom!)

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Your gastrointestinal flora are the bacteria that live in your digestive tract.These beneficial guys live their lives in a symbiotic relationship with the cells of your GI tract, helping to guide, protect, and nourish them. Your flora have a big impact on your body’s health, right up to the hair on your head.

While incredibly helpful, your flora are also impressionable when it comes to your daily decisions and are hugely impacted by both physical and emotional stress, your diet, and your environment. An imbalance in your microbiome (and the inflammation and absorption issues to follow) means that your hair follicles may not be able to get the thumbs up for growth or receive the nutrients they need to fuel them. Don’t forget, inflammation and nutrient deficiencies are big roadblocks to optimal hair health.

So if you’re looking to crush your hair goals, your microbiome is worth paying attention to. Here are three reasons why:

A healthy microbiome supports better nutrient absorption

While your stomach admittedly does a decent job of breaking down part of your meals on its own, your microbiome plays a big role in helping you absorb your nutrients. The microbes breakdown certain carbohydrates and proteins, which they very graciously turn into substances to feed the cells of your GI tract, helping to keep them healthy and nurtured. Being well-rounded, they’ve also been shown to help us with the breakdown of fats and nutrient-rich polyphenols found in plants, fruit, and tea. As if that weren’t enough, they also help create new nutrients for our use, such as vitamin K, as well as components of B vitamins, which are known to be supportive for hair health.

It helps with “leaky gut”

Your digestive tract is actually our thinnest cellular barrier to the outside world, so it’s good news that our intestines are equipped to do a great job of playing the role of bouncer for things we’d rather not let in. Turns out, though, the protective shields our GI tract uses to keep out the bad guys couldn’t even work properly without our beneficial flora being present, who signal their creation and drive their production for us, as well as support the development of our gut immune force. Without them, security at our cellular doors would be lax, allowing unwanted guests to sneak in and irritate and inflame our digestive cells — a state we commonly refer to as “leaky gut.”

Your beneficial bacteria also do you a huge service just by taking up space. Their presence means that potentially problematic microorganisms are shooed away from trying to camp out in your gut. Your immune system is well-adapted to your flora, knowing to leave them be while still fighting off anything invasive. Your flora will even perform the micro-equivalent of “calling the cops” on any potentially-unwanted growth, signaling your immune cells to check out any developing trouble.

It helps promote a healthy inflammatory response

Your microbiome plays an important role in the development and function of your immune cells. Your immune cells, while well-meaning when they set off inflammatory responses, can get a bit excessive with no one watching their back. While research still isn’t clear on all the details of how, we do know that your microbiome aids in making the immune cells that can help keep unwanted immune activities in check, like preventing the development of autoimmune diseases and calming inflammatory responses to allergens, asthma, and pathogens. Research has found that different metabolites of our microbiome are responsible for signaling various immune cells, playing puppet master to the regulation of their various inflammatory responses and ensuring they don’t get out of hand.

If you’re looking for ways to support your microbiome, consider taking a natural supplement like Nutrafol that’s made with ingredients that help gut health. The curcumin in Nutrafol supports a healthy inflammatory response, which is important for absorbing our food (and our Nutrafol) through the gut. Nutrafol’s ashwagandha supports healthy cortisol production, which is important for healthy absorption as well.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 5, 2020

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How Often You Should Trim Your Hair, According To A Hairstylist

There’s a long-standing debate within the hair community over how often you should cut your hair. Some people swear by getting a trim every six weeks; others think you should wait at least 12 weeks before getting your next trim.

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So when’s the right time to trim your hair? For expert insight, we turned to Emily Heser, a hair professional and stylist at Cutler Salon in New York City.

How often should you cut your hair?

When it comes to trimming frequency, it turns out there’s not one set rule. For most people, getting a trim every one to three months is standard, but Emily says it all depends on a person’s hair length, their haircut, and their styling routine.

“I recommend four to 12 weeks depending on length, style, and whether the hair is colored or heat styled regularly,” Emily advises.

Certain styles require more maintenance. “[For example], my bangs need to be trimmed every one to two weeks,” Emily explains. “If someone has a pixie cut, every three to five weeks could be necessary.” The same goes for men with buzz cuts, skin fades, or crew cuts, which are shorter styles that may need a trim roughly every two to three weeks.

People with longer hair can space out their trims. “For someone with long and healthy hair, I recommend 12 weeks,” Emily says. But if someone exposes their hair to dyes or heat often, then they should up the frequency of their trims. “If the person uses a curling iron or flat iron more than twice a week, or if they have color-treated hair, they’ll need to consider a trim every eight weeks to keep their hair healthy,” she notes.

How often should you trim your hair if you want it to grow?

If growing your hair out is the main goal (not just maintaining your current length), increasing the frequency of your haircuts may be necessary. While cutting the ends of your hair doesn’t affect the actual hair follicles (which determine how fast and how much your hair grows), getting frequent trims does encourage hair growth by getting rid of any damaged, broken, or split ends. That means that even if trimming doesn’t directly make your hair grow, it does help ensure that the hair you’re growing in is healthy and less likely to break.

For an extra hair-growing boost, you can take hair wellness supplements like Nutrafol in addition to getting frequent trims. “Since I began taking Nutrafol last year, my hair grows very quickly,” Emily says. “I try to keep my trims to every six to eight weeks, maximum.”

What happens if you don’t cut your hair?

Some people have trouble deciding whether they should cut their hair every two weeks or every 12 weeks — but what happens if you don’t trim your hair at all?

Many hair professionals advise against skipping trims. If you don’t cut the ends of your hair, you run the risk of split ends. Your hair may even split up the length of the strand, leaving you with a full head of brittle and weak hair.

Depending on your styling habits and hair type, you still might be able to get away with waiting longer than 12 weeks between trims; however, when you start noticing you have more split ends than healthy strands of hair, then it’s time to get a cut. “If in doubt, ask your stylist what they recommend,” Emily says.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 4, 2020

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11 Foods To Enjoy & Avoid For Healthy Hair

Fostering healthy hair is a delicate science. Every growth cycle is shaped by your everyday decisions, and you’d be remiss to think your eating habits aren’t part of this equation. Your daily diet should include the vitamins, minerals, and protein necessary to keep your hair follicles in action, as well as enough key nutrients to help keep obstacles like inflammation and stress at bay.

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Life may be about moderation, but if enviable hair growth is on your wish list, certain foods should be kept in heavy rotation while others are best kept at a minimum.

Food to encourage healthy hair growth

  • Avocados. These fruits are the good kind of fat you need in your diet. Avocados bathe your body in nutrients like magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and vitamin C with every serving, helping to fuel your hair follicles, keep your immune system strong, and support an unruffled inflammatory response. This high-fat food is especially helpful to support maximum absorption of Nutrafol’s fat soluble ingredients, making it a great choice to add to the meal you take your supplements with. (So the next time someone gives you the side-eye for ordering avocado toast again, tell them it’s not for you, it’s for your hair!)
  • Nuts and nut butter. Seriously, go nuts with nuts. Just like avocado, the ample fat in nuts supports your absorption of those fat soluble ingredients found in Nutrafol. They’re also laden with protein (an important piece of our daily hair growth puzzle) and fiber (which is essential for keeping your gut flora happy and helpful in their role of supporting your nutrient absorption). Keep your nut choices varied to ensure you’re cashing in on the various micronutrients each different type brings to the table.
  • Oysters and clams. We can’t say enough good things about vitamin B12-rich foods for hair health, so these shellfish make this list thanks to their impressive amount per serving. As an added bonus, they’re also packed with hair-supportive zinc — double the reason to add them to your hair-healthy diet. If you’re looking for B vitamins but avoid eating animal products, consider supplementation or fortified non-GMO tofu.
  • Bell peppers. Did you know these underrated veggies actually have more vitamin C than oranges? Vitamin C is the star behind your body’s collagen production. While collagen is famed for its role in keeping our skin youthful and elastic, collagen is also important for your hair health because it helps keep your hair follicles secure in your head. Assuming you’d like to keep it that way, piling your plate high with vitamin C-rich foods like bell peppers is the way to go.
  • Salmon and fatty fish. Foods rich in omega-3s are powerhouses at reducing inflammation in the body, which is one of the known enemies of optimal hair growth. It doesn’t hurt that salmon and similar fish are also chock full of hair-benefiting nutrients like vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin D, and protein.
  • Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables. Eating this family of veggies is like writing a love letter to your liver, which we depend on to help package and ship out most of the toxins in our body. Not giving your liver enough support can get in the way of your hair growth by letting inflammation run rampant, impairing nutrient storage, and gunking up your detox powers. Broccoli is also another great source of vitamin C.

Foods that mess with hair growth

  • Candy and sugar-heavy foods. Foods heavy in sugar can send our blood sugar on a roller coaster of instability, rocking both our mood and our overall health. The ups and then inevitable crashes that come with eating sugary foods risk an increase of inflammation in the body.
  • Marlin and other high-mercury fish. Letting too much mercury sneak into your diet can cause internal imbalances, disrupting your usual hormone signaling and piling on inflammation (thus stressing out your body and hampering daily tasks like hair growth). This stress is enough to kick your hair right out of its growth phase, as well as get in the way of your absorption of hair-happy nutrients.
  • White bread and pastries. While tasty, these grains have been stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients, leaving you without proper nourishment or a buffer from these foods’ blood sugar-disrupting effects. While some bread will boast that it’s enriched in certain nutrients, fiber is unfortunately still left in the dust.
  • Processed foods like potato chips. Easy to spot from their laundry list of difficult-to-pronounce ingredients, processed foods lack the nutrients necessary to support hair growth. Instead, they’re full of disruptive sugar, high sodium, and less-than-optimal forms of fat. Food additives are thrown into ingredient lists to improve flavor, texture, and increase shelf life. While some are innocent additions, others can add to immune disruption, mess with our blood sugar regulation, disrupt our microbiome, and essentially throw a wrench in our hair growth cycle.
  • Alcohol. Cocktails and mixers are another culprit in sending our blood sugar on a joy ride —
    a big problem since issues with controlling blood sugar are connected to hair loss. Even if you’re choosing to stick with more blood sugar-friendly alcohol choices, too much alcohol can still spell trouble for your hair growth, as a higher alcohol intake is correlated with worse nutrient choices overall. (And you better believe your hair depends on smart food choices to keep rolling out strong, healthy locks!)
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on March 3, 2020

NEXT: Want a boost for your hair?